Mossberg 930 Semi Auto Shotgun
By: Mark Stone
Mark Stone changes his mind about Mossbergs after trying an identical pair of multi-purpose gas powered semi-auto shotguns.
There was a song in the charts a good few years ago that stated ‘things could only get better’. And in the case of Mossberg’s gas-powered semi-autos, the lyrics couldn’t have been more appropriate. Why? The last Mossberg semi-auto I tried had more in common with a fence post and was only half as useful, its inability to perform the most basic task of discharging a round, ejecting the empty and jacking the next cartridge into battery singularly beyond it.
And before you try and tell me I’d just got a bad ‘un, the hastily supplied replacement wasn’t much better. So it was more than natural that when the new UK importers York Guns suggested I try a pair of Mossberg 930 semi-autos, I approached them with a somewhat jaundiced view. What I can now say from the off is that not only were both 930’s totally reliable but they were enjoyable to use too.
The reason for the matching pair, one a Black Synthetic the other a Max4 Camo was to be able to evaluate them from two points of view. Both are 4 + 1 Section 1 shotguns which means one in the chamber and four more in the magazine, although both versions are available as standard 3 – shot capacity shotguns, the two provided not only provide a useful crossover but can also be considered purpose specific. Apart from that they were mechanically and, apart from the finish, physically identical -which meant each and every measurement and dimension applied equally to both.
Presented in Mossberg’s familiar bright blue and yellow cartons the contents are nothing more than the gun, a set of three flush-it Accu Chokes plus a simple key, a high visibility orange chamber plug which is very worthwhile and useful accessory, a blue and yellow Mossberg branded padlock, stock stickers and the paperwork. And that - as they say - is it, a basic package that gets you up and running within minutes, all you have to remember is that the 930 likes the bolt to be forward when offering up the barrel extension before then drawing it rearwards so allowing the barrel to be fully seated.
A good, full sized anodised or camo wrapped plain alloy receiver houses a solid, single-claw bolt with an oversized hatched cut bolt release button located just below the ejection port and a solid shell lifter. Likewise, there’s no bolt lock lever or button since the bolt itself locks back once the last round has been fired. A slightly heavy trigger sits inside a generously proportioned trigger-guard whilst Mossberg’s trademark fore and aft sliding safety-catch is situated on top of the receiver at the rear and falls beneath the shooter’s thumb when holding the grip. Like most Mossbergs, close scrutiny reveals that the top of the receiver is ready drilled and tapped to facilitate the fitment of an accessory rail.
The synthetic furniture fits particularly well as does the deep, soft honeycombed recoil pad that completes the stock. Both the narrow, gently radiused grip and the extended forend have large panels of closely moulded, functional chequering whilst the forend itself is kept secured in position by a deep mag cap that also incorporates the forward sling swivel. Tough and easy to clean and maintain, like most synthetic furniture the 930’s exterior will require little maintenance apart from the occasional application of a damp rag.
Port of call
Working backwards from the muzzle, the 28” steel proofed and 3” magnum chambered barrel is fitted with a 9mm vented rib and high-visibility red lozenge bead. Unusually, three inches back from the muzzle the 930 displays eight neat porting holes on either side. Whilst the discharge bang might be amplified, these small holes substantial reduce muzzle flip especially when shooting large, heavy loads. Where the 930 also differs is that besides the short action spring and slide that locate around the magazine tube, whilst the twin-port and valve located within the barrel ring do an excellent job of self-regulating the 930, another short spring and collar allow the shooter to input some of their own settings if magnum loads are to be the staple fodder of their Mossberg. Unusually in certain ways, where other manufacturers opt for reversible or interchangeable valves, this Mossberg system allows for a far more tuneable system.
Big and bold
The first aspect of the 930 you’re immediately aware of as soon as you pick it up is that this is a big gun. Weighing in at an exact 8lbs with a balance point just below the chamber, as the 930 nears the shoulder it’s a pleasant change to discover the stock’s dimensions have been planned for an adult. A length of pull of 14 1/8th although it does mate up with a rather hefty average 7lb trigger release weight whilst drops at comb and heel are a comfortable 1 5/16” and 2 1/8”. In a session with the Arrow Laser Shot the 930 displayed a flat attitude and looked where I did without any need for physical adjustment. This meant the gun in theory should be ideal for my style and requirements.
So it proved to be; the 930 was on the money from the off. Recoil from the 28gram Express World Cup fibres was almost non-existent whilst the patterning from the ¼ choke was good enough to take out even long distance clays. What was noticeable was the fact that the leading hand had its work cut out, the weight of the 930 centred firmly within my left palm. This means the 930 has to be driven quite hard and that momentum isn’t maintained, any decrease in physical effort resulting in the 930 grinding to a halt.
However once you’ve got used to this practical trait the 930 becomes easy to use along with the fact that the dynamics mean you have to take more measured shots. The genuine plus side is that when fully loaded with five rounds and sat quietly beneath a crow roost, when combined with the barrel porting and loaded up with 36 gram and above Express game load, rapid discharge of all five rounds allows the shooter to remain fully in control, the 930 remaining neutral and stable, even 50 gram BB’s used on some recalcitrant vermin allowing the Mossberg to remain balanced and composed.
The ammo the 930 didn’t like was short brass, average performance loads, the 930’s obvious disdain of them exemplified by the fact small loads couldn’t even generate enough energy to produce a stove-pipe, the empty remaining in the chamber, the bolt firmly in battery. Translate this into usage terms and from a keeper’s or Practical shooter’s perspective, the 930 more than works with you, allowing accurate, directional placement of even the most heavy loads. Similarly, whilst the 930 will break clays for you all day long, its true metier is as a working tool, a shotgun that’s there to perform a job and carry out the task to the best of its abilities.
Don’t get me wrong, the 930 is as much a sporting gun as any other semi-auto but its more function over form. The 930’s as tough as old boots and more or less seems to expect you to treat it as such. However, load up with the right ammo and this Mossberg will pay you back in good old Yankee style.
Taken from a broad perspective Mossberg’s 930 enjoys a multi-functional appeal. As a standard shotgun it’s capable of turning its muzzle towards virtually any target you might desire and with the Max4 camo option it’ll more than interest wildfowlers looking to find something other than one of the many budget orientated Turkish models on the market. Since however there are a whole host of capacity options, providing you have the appropriate paperwork, with a maximum capacity of 10 + 1 available, the camo version is a natural choice for the game keeping fraternity. Many keepers prefer a large capacity Section 1 semi-auto as their constant companion whilst the camouflage finish seems at the moment to be very much in vogue with a vast majority of them.
Alternatively, the identical black synthetic version is a natural choice for the Practical shotgunner. If following the UKPSA rules as they should - which means they aren’t allowed to display the merest hint of DPM of any sort - the 10 + 1 model is more or less mandatory given the nature of their highly entertaining and demanding discipline.
The only negative I can genuinely find between these two matching 930’s is the rather disproportional price difference. Retailing out at £705 for the Black Synthetic there’s a significant hike of £120 if you want the Max4 version, the £825 being something of a financial penalty for nothing more than a finish, attractive as it is. However, there will be those who can’t resist it even though the outer surface makes no difference whatsoever to the 930’s abilities. But whichever of the physical effects appeals to you the one thing is, that the 930 is a decent, all round gas powered semi-auto that should serve its user well and from my own point of view have significantly altered my views of Mossbergs.
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Capacity||5 (As tested)|
|Action||Gas operated semi – automatic|
|Chokes||Flush – fit multi – chokes|
|Price||£705 Black Synthetic / £825 Max4 Camouflage|
|Contact||York Guns tel. 01904 487180 www.yorkguns.com|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates